The 10 best excuses given by translators to translations agencies

A compilation of favorite excuses which translators give translation agencies when they don’t meet their deadlines. No hard feelings!

Some translation agencies turn the lives of translators into a living hell. But translators aren’t exactly all angels either. Following we present the 10 best excuses that translators give to translation agencies.

Excuse #1: Internet problems

The “breakdown” excuse is undoubtedly the most common. Usually the problem is related to Internet connectivity. If translators don’t have an Internet connection they can’t access online dictionaries, or worse, they can’t connect to the servers which many translation agencies use to manage their projects. It’s feasible, unverifiable, irremediable and beyond the control of the translator. In short, the perfect excuse!

Excuse #2: computer problems

The computer breakdown excuse also works well. Again, it’s a situation that’s feasible, unverifiable, difficult to remedy, and which the poor translator can’t do much about. It’s the dream excuse to justify a delay in delivering a translation!

Excuse #3: server problems

Computers are a source of nearly endless pretexts for overwhelmed translators, because if the problem isn’t the Internet connection, it could be the connection to the translation agency’s server. After all, it’s the translation agencies’ fault for forcing us to use these complicated sites.

Excuse #4: email problems

If the problem isn’t connecting to the translation agency’s server, it’s because they don’t use one. And if they don’t use one, the translation has to be sent by email. And, as we all know, some emails get lost in cyberspace and never reach their destination. So is it really my fault, as the translator, if the translation company chooses to use such an outdated and obsolete method as email?

Excuse #5: file problem

Another classic of the computer-based excuses is the file was deleted, lost, damaged, or whatnot. The community of late translators no doubt says a daily prayer that the computer breakdown excuse will always be there!

Excuse #6: poor quality original document

If computers aren’t the problem, maybe the problem lies with the document to be translated. In this case, the translator has a few cards they can play. Top one: The original document was so poorly written that I had to first rewrite it to be able to understand it and then translate it. That’s why I’m late.

Excuse #7: original document too technical

We could also blame the document for being too technical. If by chance the topic of the translation is related to the medical or financial fields, for example, this opens the door for the perfect excuse. I was given a supposedly innocuous translation and it ended up being a technical monstrosity. I need a longer deadline!

Excuse #8: original document longer than advertised

A translator’s lifeline to keep from drowning: if the translation agency happened to have made the mistake of underestimating the project’s workload, even by only a little, some translators will not hesitate to jump on the error. It’s longer than originally stated, I’ll need more time …

Excuse #9: quality translations take longer

Another option: touch a sensitive nerve. And at a translation agency, there is no more sensitive nerve than the one related to the quality of the translation services offered. So, a manipulative translator might say something like, I can get the translation back to you within that time frame, but I must warn you that the quality may be sub-optimal.

Excuse #10: family emergency

Another sensitive nerve: translation agencies are made up of people; those people have families, and (usually) a heart. And even if they know they’re hitting below the belt, some translators will resort to playing the “family emergency” card.

What about you, translators, what are your favorite excuses? Project managers, what are the most common excuses you encounter?

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